Dale Farm’s cheese facility to be powered by solar energy

Dale Farm, has confirmed the build of a new ‘private wire’ solar farm in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone, which will power its cheese processing facility.

The company, which is owned by a co-operative of 1,300 dairy farmers, will work alongside CES Energy to build what is understood to be the largest of its kind on the entire island.

This change to solar power is expected to make Dale Farm a green energy leader in the global dairy sector, with the solar farm also thought to be one one of the largest in the dairy sector worldwide.

Construction on the 37ac site which will be made up of more than 18,000 solar modules is expected to get under way in the middle of next year.

The proposed build is estimated to meet as much as a 20% of Dale Farm’s power needs, while the 5MW solar farm will also be connected directly to the private network of the business.

Delivering considerable environmental gains the scheme will cause a vast energy reduction at the plant, 2,460t of carbon emissions each year to be exact, the equivalent of taking 1,170 cars off the road, according to Dale Farm.

L-R: Chief Executive of CES Energy, Tom Marren alongside Group Chief Executive of Dale Farm Nick Whelan and Dale Farm Group Operations Director, Chris McAlinden.
L-R: Chief Executive of CES Energy, Tom Marren alongside Group Chief Executive of Dale Farm Nick Whelan and Dale Farm Group Operations Director, Chris McAlinden.

The new solar farm is an important milestone for CES Energy which demonstrates the opportunities that solar energy presents for the island of Ireland, the company Chief Executive Tom Marren said.

This project continues CES Energy’s focus on financing on-site energy infrastructure projects which provide cost savings for our customers globally.

“The new scheme will guarantee over 20 years of low cost, green power at Dale Farm’s cheese processing site and enable significant savings for Northern Ireland’s leading dairy company,” Marren said.

Meanwhile, Dale Farm, which employs over 1,000 people, is breaking new ground with this venture, Group Chief Executive at Dale Farm, Nick Whelan said.

“Dale Farm is committed to sustainability and the opportunity to procure solar electricity will aid the company in lowering our carbon footprint and in reducing our operating costs.

“We recently invested £7 million to further expand our consumer cheddar products operation at Dunmanbridge, Co. Tyrone, now one of the most advanced facilities of its kind in Europe,” Whelan said.

A shortage of available electricity in the local area has made the companies ambitious growth plans challenging at times, according to Whelan.

It is strategically essential that as a business focused on growth we have certainty of supply and importantly, capability of supply.

“The considerable savings delivered from solar power will be reinvested in the business to optimise efficiency across our processing plants, which ultimately adds to our ability to pay a higher milk price.

“Our core objective is to ensure that we carry on building a strong and viable business for the future, which we can continue to be proud of, and this new development is most welcome.”


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